Louise Glück is one of America’s most honored contemporary poets. In 2020 Louise Glück has become the first American woman to win the Nobel prize for literature in 27 years, cited for “her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”. Glück is the 16th woman to win the Nobel, and the first American woman since Toni Morrison took the prize in 1993. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Glück is a former Poet Laureate of the United States and the author of a dozen widely acclaimed books. Stephen Dobyns, writing in the New York Times Book Review, said “no American poet writes better than Louise Glück, perhaps none can lead us so deeply into our own nature.” Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Hass has called her “one of the purest and most accomplished lyric poets now writing.”
Glück's work is noted for its emotional intensity and technical precision; her language, staunchly straightforward, is clear and refined, so-much-so one does "not see the intervening fathoms.” Glück's considerable accomplishments as a poet are apparent in Poems: 1962-2012 (in the UK this volume has been updated and re-titled Poems 1962-2020).
Gluck’s collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night, won the 2014 National Book Award for Poetry. Other books are A Village Life (2009), which was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize, and Averno (2006), which was nominated for the National Book Award, won the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award, and was listed by The New York Times Book Review as one of the 100 Notable Books of the Year.
Her earlier work includes The Seven Ages (2001); Vita Nova (1999), winner of The New Yorker Magazine’s Book Award in Poetry; Meadowlands (1996); The Wild Iris (1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), which received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of America's Melville Kane Award. The First Four Books of Poems (1999) collects the early work that helped establish Glück as one of America's most original poets. She has written two books of essays, Proofs and Theories (1994), which was awarded the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction, and American Originality. Her Nobel acceptance speech was published in e-Book format as The Nobel Lecture in Literature, 2020. Her next book of poetry will be Winter Recipes from the Collective (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 19, 2021).
In 2003, Glück was named the 12th United States Poet Laureate. That same year, she was named the judge for the Yale Series of Younger Poets, and she served in that position through 2010.
In addition to the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award, Glück has received many honors. In 2001, she was awarded the Bollingen Prize, given biennially for a poet's lifetime achievement. And in 2008, Glück received the Wallace Stevens Award for “outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry.” Her other honors include the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the M.I.T. Anniversary Medal, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a distinction that is given every six years. In addition, Louise Glück received the 2015 National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Glück taught at Williams College for 20 years and is adjunct professor of English and Rosenkranz Writer-in-Residence at Yale and Visiting Professor with the Stanford Creative Writing Program. She was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 – 2005, and she is a currently member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters.
Photo Katherine Wolkoff